[I]t's one thing to argue--as Markos does--that a blogger code of conduct would be ineffective. Fine. But dismissing online misogyny and Sierra's experience (without even bothering to do any research on the subject, to boot) is reprehensible.
And this from Melissa at Shakesville is also very much on point:
I could write four paragraphs or so here documenting all the research done on stalking and threat conversion against women, but, frankly, I don't think numbers and stats are even necessary. Every male blogger to whom I've ever spoken about receiving rape threats reacts with horror and shock because they don't get them. It's a very different series of tubes for women and men, and it's really disappointing that the most prominent progressive blogger doesn't seem to recognize nor care that it's so. And, worse yet, tells those of us who do we ought just bugger off with our silly concerns for our own and others' safety.
People of color and members of the LGBT community are disproportionately targeted as victims of hate crimes; the solution is not more segregation. People with developmental disabilities and untreated mental illness leaving them vulnerable are also disproportionately targeted for harassment; the solution is not hiding them away from society in dreary but allegedly safe asylums. When female soldiers are raped, the answer is not to ban women from military service.
We are meant to be champions of integration, not exclusion, of placing the responsibility for harassment squarely where it belongs--on the harasser, not on the victim of harassment.
So, what should you do now? You could ignore the criticism, or make excuses for your error, like Don Imus and his loyal gang of sycophants have tried to do in the case of the racial slurs the I-Man directed at the Rutgers women's basketball team. You could claim you were misunderstood, or that people took your words out of context, or employ any of a number of other rhetorical devices to obfuscate and obscure that what you wrote about Ms. Sierra was fundamentally wrong. In other words, you could act like Hillary Clinton has done regarding her vote to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
But that wouldn't be right, and I think in your heart you know that. So do the right thing.
Apologize, without any conditions or excuses, to Kathy Sierra and to all the women bloggers whose characters have been sullied by your callous and ill considered remarks. Publish another front page post at your blog admitting that you were grossly mistaken when you made light of the severity of the vicious verbal attacks and threats posted online against Kathy Sierra, and implied that her legitimate response to such inexcusable and terrifying abuse resulted from a lack of testicles on her part.
Man up, in other words. It's not a sign of weakness to admit one's mistakes. It's a sign of maturity, a demonstration that you are big enough to admit that you were wrong. A lot of people, whether they like you personally or not, will respect you if you do. Even more important, I think you'd respect yourself a lot more, too.
Think it over. It's never too late to make amends for the wrongs we do in life. That's what I tell my two kids anyway.
Why the lack of concern for Kathy Sierra ?
A lot of people think that the entire brouhaha about the death and rape threats Kathy Sierra received have been vastly overblown. In fact, the proprietor of Daily Kos, the dominant liberal blog in terms of traffic, had this to say recently about her "situation":
Look, if you blog, and blog about controversial shit, you'll get idiotic emails. Most of the time, said "death threats" don't even exist -- evidenced by the fact that the crying bloggers and journalists always fail to produce said "death threats". [...]
But so what? It's not as if those cowards will actually act on their threats. For better or for worse, this isn't a country in which media figures -- even hugely controversial ones -- are routinely attacked by anything more dangerous than a cream pie.
As I've written elsewhere, I think that was a terribly inappropriate response to make. But it's also got me thinking: why do so many people defend what Kos wrote?
My theory? I think it comes from a fundamental lack of understanding about what women experience everyday in our society. In particular, the level of sexual harassment, misogyny, verbal abuse, and threats of physical violence, especially sexualized violence in the form of rape. Others have quoted statistics up the wazoo about the vast gulf between the online threats and abuse women receive versus what men experience ...
Maybe, despite being a major blogger, you haven't spent much time thinking about the specific online experiences of women. In which case, you should know that women online--not just bloggers, but women in chat rooms or commenting on blogs or on internet forums--get twenty-five times more harassment than men do. That's not 25%; it's 2500%.
... but bare statistics are just numbers, too abstract, to cold and too detached from the actual experiences they document to make much of an impression on many people. So let's get personal, shall we?
Most men have never been raped, or threatened with rape, or subjected to verbal abuse based on their gender. Not all, by any means, but most men just don't have these experiences. That make sit a little hard to have any empathy for the women who have been raped, or beaten or verbally abused. But not impossible.
I've known several women in my life who have been sexually abused. Let me tell you their stories.
My first wife was anally raped by her father for years before she left home. She was in and out of therapy over the course of the next 2 decades because of this, and one of her therapists even took advantage of her trauma to sexually assault her as well (short of penetration, but a violation, nonetheless). When we were married she never told me anything at all about what her father had done to her. It was only years later that she confessed her dark secret to me. Because many women feel such shame about the experience that they are unable to tell even their own partners, the people they love and who love them.
My sister was also raped as a child. She was only nine or ten years old when it happened. Again, she hid what happened to her from her family for several years out of a combination of fear, shame and guilt. I won't share all the details, but it has had a lasting impact on her life.
I have a second cousin who was very close to my mother, and thus to all of our family, who married a man who regularly beat her, verbally abused her, raped her and made numerous threats to kill her. It sounds like a cliche, but she frequently wore large sunglasses and thick make-up to hide the black eyes and bruises he gave her. After she left him, she was so frightened she bought herself a pistol and learned how to shoot -- just in case. She was lucky to obtain a divorce and escape him and his violence, but we all know of instances of women who are not so lucky.
But the harassment or abuse doesn't have to rise to the level of actual rape to have a profound effect on many women. How many have had to endure sexism in the working place? How many have been the target of a male peer or superior at work who has attempted to coerce her to provide "sexual favors?" How many have had fathers, or brothers or husbands that verbally abuse them everyday in the most demeaning language? You know the words: Bitch. Slut. Ho. Cunt. Words that are bandied about by men often larger and more aggressive than the victim of their taunts.
So, I thought maybe an informal poll here at Daily Kos might prove useful. Nothing too complicated. Just vote whether you, as a male or female, have ever experienced any of the types of sexual, psychological and/or physical abuse that I've described above. If people are honest, I think I know how the poll should come out. But let's see, shall we.
Poll results here: LINK
Open Letter to A-List Bloggers Not Named Markos Moulitsas
I've sent emails to all of the A-List bloggers listed below at the contact email addresses listed at their blogs, with a link to this post, and a request that they consider responding to what Kos wrote about Kathy Sierra. Hopefully those emails will be read by the persons to whom I addressed them.
Dear A-List Bloggers (including, but not limited to, Atrios, Joshua Micah Marshall, Jane Hamsher, Arianna Huffington, John Amato, Glenn Greenwald and John Aravosis):
Surely by now, you have become aware that Markos posted some really stupid shit at his blog about Kathy Sierra. Basically, he downplayed the death threats and rape threats she received in order to argue that censorship of online speech is a bad idea. Which it is.
The trouble with Markos' post is that it was incredibly -- well -- incredibly misogynistic and callous toward Ms. Sierra's plight, to say the least. And a large number of us B and C (and even lesser letter) list bloggers have called him on it. For your benefit, some of those blog posts are listed below (via Wampum) [list deleted for brevity's sake -- just go to Wampum for the links]:
A not insignificant group of intelligent, thoughtful, progressive bloggers who have called Markos on the carpet for his, to be charitable, extremely insensitive, ignorant and demeaning remarks about not only the violent and sexual threats Kathy Sierra has endured, but what many female bloggers face online everyday. Yet, surprisingly, I've yet to see any of you "big time", important voices of the left side of the blogosphere (at least, those of you I have listed above) speak out on this matter. Not one post, in fact. Which strikes me as a little odd.
Now, maybe you have been too busy to notice what Markos wrote regarding poor Ms. Sierra, or haven't had time to read and process it in order to prepare a proper response. Or maybe you're reluctant to tell a friend of yours that he's just stepped in a pile of manure and really ought to clean off his shoes before he makes an even bigger mess. I don't know. But I do know that Markos sure as hell isn't listening to any of the rest of us, who, God knows, have tried very hard to get him to see the error of his ways.
So, let me appeal to you. Maybe you'll have better luck that we have had. Maybe you can get Markos to see that admitting his mistakes makes him a bigger man, not a smaller, weaker one. Maybe if you speak up against the reprehensible and uncalled for comments he leveled at Kathy Sierra, and by extension, at all other women online who've ever received threats, or been demeaned and belittled by sexist and sexually harassing comments, he will see the light, and come clean.
Really, all it would take on his part is a simple apology, and an admission that he was wrong, and a lot of the anger and outrage he has generated among his fellow liberals and progressives, both men and women, would be forgotten, or at least forgiven. Not that big a deal, you would think. It's what we teach our children when they are still in diapers. When you've done something wrong, when you've hurt someone, say you're sorry.
So, will you help us, and even more important, will you help Markos, by speaking out? You have the big soap box, not us. Many of you know him personally, not us. And isn't it the duty of his friends to tell him that he's screwed the pooch on the Affaire le Sierra? Isn't it more likely that if he hears from the people he considers his "peers" that he needs to make amends, the message might actually get through to him?
Please give it some serious consideration, will you? I hope to see all of you posting about this matter at your earliest convenience. To paraphrase the title to an earlier post I addressed to Markos directly regarding this matter, "It's the right thing to do."
So, please. Just do it.
Thanks for reading. Hope that gets everyone up to speed on the issues involved. My original post on Kathy Sierra (before Kos spoke up about it) is here: Kathy Sierra and Online Hate Crimes